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The Latest: Interactive Refreshment Stations March 27, 2011

One of the trends that is gaining quick popularity this year is the presence of interactive food and drink stations at special events.

Not only can these stations add visual interest to an event, they also add a participatory element to your guests’ experience, inviting them to “make their own” cupcakes, fondue, bagels, cocktails, etc.  Interactive refreshment stations allow your guests to customize their food/drinks to their own personal tastes.  And who doesn’t love that?

Some fabulous examples to inspire you:

Custom Bagel Bar (via Luna and Chloe Weddings):

Bagel Bar: Guests can make their own breakfast bagels

Fondue “Fundo” Party (via Amy Atlas Special Events):

Fondue Party: Fun and tasty for your guests

Smoothie Bar (via Hip Hooray Blog):

DIY: Smoothie Bar


Art Birthday with DIY Food Palettes (via Hostess Blog):


Art Party: Make your own food "palette"

Brunch Birthday (via The Sweetest Occasion):

Interactive Pancake Station

Customized Pancakes

Baking Party Birthday (via Amy Atlas Events):

Baking Party: Fun for all ages

S’Mores Spectacular (via Cookie Creatives):

Decadent DIY S'Mores Station

DIY Ice Dream Parlour (via Eat Drink Chic):

Pink & Pretty Ice Cream Parlour

Choose your own toppings!

Champagne Bar (via Eat Drink Pretty):

DIY Mimosas & Bellinis

These interactive food/drink stations are so much fun.  If you plan to try this concept at one of your events, make sure you have the time/staff to clean up the station periodically, as guests can often be very messy.  It would also be wise to have a helper nearby to assist small children and older guests who need help with the station.

I can’t wait to see the new ideas that come with spring and summer entertaining this year!

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2011 Party Trends January 16, 2011

I loved all of the party trends of 2010: Lavish dessert spreads, huge round balloons, striped paper straws, paper cones, printed labels for refreshments, custom photo backdrops, mini milk bottles and mason jars as beverage containers, custom printed cookies, whoopie pies, feathers in decor, attire, and floral arrangements, and DIY everything.  And let’s not forget the most popular themes: Circus and carnival bashes, tea parties, dessert parties, cocktail parties, black and white weddings, and craft/cake/cupcake decorating parties.

I think that most of these 2010 trends will persist throughout 2011, but what will be new for this year?

Well, I think we’ll see more “homey” trends throughout 2011, meaning that the DIY craze will continue and that a home cooking element will shine through, as well as the incorporation of family heirlooms and treasures.  Grandma’s crystal punch bowl and Aunt Edith’s silver candlesticks may find their way out of storage and into the dining room.

Comfort food will remain a big entertaining trend this year, and I foresee a lot of breakfast and brunch parties on the horizon.  Biscuit-based breakfast sandwiches, freshly squeezed juices, and stacks of personalized pancakes/waffles/french toast are easy to prepare and make a great impact.

Breakfast Biscuit

Personalized Pancakes

For desserts, I think sweet and salty will be the desired 2011 combination, as well as chocolate dipped everything.  Chocolate dipped potato chips and pretzels are tasty and very easy to prepare at home.  They also allow for colour coordination when using white chocolate and the food colouring of your choice.

Chocolate Dipped Potato Chips

Easy to make at home

Doughnuts, macarons, cupcakes and whoopie pies will all remain popular this year, and we’ll see a rise in the favour of pies, tarts and individually plated desserts for 2011.

Adorable Mini Pies

Just for you!

Table runners and mismatched or complementary plates will dominate in 2011, in lieu of the tablecloths and matching tableware we saw in 2010.  And linen napkins are back in full force, available in a wide variety of colours and patterns.

DIY Table Runner

Complementary Tableware

As for party themes – who really knows what will catch on this year?  I personally think we’ll see a lot of “make-your-own” parties, meaning that guests will be invited to assemble their own pizzas, grilled sandwiches, ice cream sundaes and the like.  I also think that games and activities will play a larger role in 2011 entertaining, especially with XBox’s new dance game – though the old board games and trivia games wouldn’t go astray either.  Of course guests love to mix, mingle and eat, but it’s always fun to get them up and moving and interacting in an unexpected way.

Garden parties and picnics began a slow resurgence last year, and I see them becoming more popular in 2011.  Evening cocktail party, afternoon tea, and Sunday brunch weddings gained favour this past year, and I imagine we will see a lot more of these modern takes on the traditional wedding format in this coming year.  Little boys will love space, spy, and superhero parties (but when have they not loved these?), and little girls will love unicorn, fairy, and animal-themed parties more than ever.  2011 movies will certainly have an impact on the party themes for the year, so we should stay tuned for new films in the Spiderman, Captain America, King Fu Panda, The Avengers, Transformers, Get Smart, and Harry Potter franchises.

Unicorn Party!

What are your thoughts on the pending trends for 2011?  I’d love to hear your ideas and opinions!

Photos courtesy of Food and Wine, Design Sponge, Etsy, Make and Takes, Kids Cooking Activities, Twirl Boutique, Martha Stewart Weddings, West Elm.

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The Latest: Cath Kidston December 8, 2010

Filed under: Favours & Gifts,The Latest — brilliantbash @ EST
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I opened my mailbox this evening to find a lovely gift from a fabulous friend of mine.  It was a beautiful set of Cath Kidston labels and greeting cards.  Just gorgeous.

I hadn’t heard of this Cath Kidston character before, so I immediately visited the website and fell head-over-heels in love.  Kidston’s marriage of sweet country patterns with bold, modern flair is near and dear to my heart.  Love it!

The shop carries a wide range of fabric, clothing and home accessories, including fun, unique dinnerware.  I especially love their cake stands, and isn’t this fondue set just the cutest one you’ve ever seen?

Provence Rose Cake Stand

Dotty Fondue Set

The Cath Kidston brand is UK-based, but there is also a US website:  They don’t appear to ship to Canada *sniff*, but perhaps if we nudge them enough, they may consider doing so.

Thank you, sweet friend, for introducing me to this fantastic new world of Cath Kidston!

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The Latest: How Many Entertaining Trends Will I Incorporate into My B-Day Party? November 17, 2010

So, as I posted earlier here, I am planning my birthday party for this coming weekend.  The theme is “A Ladies & Gentlemen Affair.”  Think houndstooth, lace, fancy hats, gloves, cocktail dresses, moustaches, top hats and tuxedos.

I’ve been monitoring party trends very closely over the past year or so, and I’ve decided to incorporate several fun ideas into my party.  Can you guess which ones I’m going for?

Huge Round Balloons

Huge Round Balloons?

Multi-tiered Dessert Stand?

Victorian Silhouettes?

Paper Cones for Snacks?

Ruffle Cake?

Cake Bunting?

Patterned Paper Straws?

Custom Patterned Oreos?

Swirly Lollipops?

Moustache & Lip Photo Booth Props?

Let me know what you think I’ll incorporate into the party!  Either post a comment here or on my Facebook page.  Thanks for reading!

Photos Courtesy of Wedding Magazine UK, Hostess with the Mostess, Martha Stewart, Design Sponge, Brilliant Bash, Sweeties, and Living Locurto,

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The Latest: Fancy Paper Straws November 7, 2010

Fancy straws seem to be sweeping the entertaining world at a surprising pace.  What is making patterned paper straws gain popularity so quickly?  It may be their low cost for high impact, their propensity for colour coordination, their eco-friendly attributes, or their fun, retro vibe – or all of the above.

A fun way to serve milk

Fun and Vibrant

I haven’t yet seen these biodegradable, compostable lovelies featured at an event here in Toronto (aside from my summer picnic party this year), but hope they will gain favour with Canadian event planners and stylish hosts and hostesses soon.  The U.S. and Australia are at the forefront of all of the hottest entertaining trends, including the paper straw phenomenon.  Even the usually trendy U.K. is far behind these two countries when it comes to party decor and refreshments.

A snapshot from my picnic party

While I used mason jars at my picnic party, the most common format in which to see these fancy paper straws is in miniature milk jugs.  So cute but so hard to find.  I’m planning to host a Milk & Cookies Bash just before the holidays, and could not find these cute glass bottles anywhere.  A friend from Home Confetti (a blog that focuses on entertaining at home) suggested that I purchase bottled frappuccinos from Starbucks.  This turned out to be a fabulous suggestion and the bottles are adorable!  Have a look…

Pretty Little Glass Jug via Starbucks

And this past summer, Project Wedding featured a wedding that had a fabulous old-fashioned soda bar, complete with retro stripey straws.  Love it.

Old-Fashioned Soda Bar

As with any trend, the paper straws began with one signature look and then moved on to many more iterations.  They began with red stripes, then quickly moved on to include other colours, and are now even featuring polka dots.  I hear that other patterns, such as hearts and stars, will be available in the New Year.  Can’t wait!

Pink Polka - A Variation on the Trend

Striking Black Polka Dot Straws

If you are in Canada or the U.S., you can find stripey and polka dot straws in the Brilliant Bash online boutique.  If you’re in Australia, you can find the stripey straws at Jack and Lulu.  Sip it up!

Photos Courtesy of Bridal Survival, Mon Tresor, Brilliant Bash, and Project Wedding.

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Vendor Spotlight: Hazlitt Vintage Rental October 26, 2010

Over the past few years, many wedding and event planners have opted for a vintage, rustic feel for their special events, and this trend continues to grow in popularity, but it is often difficult to source the rugged, iconic pieces necessary to achieve an authentic look and feel.   That is, until now.  Look out Ontario brides, wedding planners and photographers!  The province has a brand new prop shop that offers unique options for special events and photo shoots.

Selena Hazlitt grew up surrounded by vintage items and spent many days browsing antique shops and going to auctions with her parents.  Thus, Hazlitt Vintage Rental was born earlier this month. Selena’s new business offers one-of-a-kind decor pieces and props for brides and grooms, event planners and photographers.  An extensive collection of furniture and accessories is available for rent, including collections of vintage keys, mason jars, furniture, wooden ironing boards, picture frames, wood doors, door knobs, unique linens, quilts, radios, trunks, luggage, birch logs and much more.

You won't find these at Tiffany & Co

Vintage Furniture

Have a seat!

Frame it up

Rare find

I had the opportunity to ask Selena a bit about her new business and her passion for all things vintage.  Here is an excerpt of our chat:

Brilliant Bash: What inspired you to start your own business?

SH: I’ve always been an entrepreneur of sorts.  I am an independent soul who likes to explore new things.  I enjoy collaborating with others while knowing that I can retreat to my own space to refresh and organize my thoughts.  I am also a mom who made the choice to leave the nine to five, Monday to Friday work scene.  I really do adore hanging out with my 5 year-old son.  Starting my own business gives me the flexibility I need to love and parent my boy and also satisfies my need to have my own creative outlet.

BB: Was it difficult to get started?  Tell us a little bit about the process.

SH: This process is a little different for me.  Usually I am a very meticulous person; the type who does all the research, prepares the business plan, etc.  But that isn’t the way this journey has worked out so far.  I am enjoying the shift from my usual approach.  It took a few months for me to decide that I really wanted to manage a vintage rental business.  Once I got over that hump, everything fell into place rather quickly.

My advantage was that I already had a lot of inventory.  In order to prepare the store-front, I spent a couple of weeks in September painting and hanging out in hardware stores ordering wood and crown moulding.  My parents have been a huge support and help in preparing the space and inventory.  We have spent a lot of days cleaning jars, scrubbing furniture and squeezing in the odd shopping adventure.

I hired a local designer to create the brand and prepare some marketing tools for me.  Those things are in production and will be ready in November.  My good friend, Erin Samuell of A Simple Photograph, has been indispensable, thanks to her beautiful photos and creative ideas.

The web played a huge role in helping shape Hazlitt Vintage Rentals.  There are so many great resources available at any time of the day.  I spent a lot of time looking at industry web sites and blogs to get an idea of what was in demand.  And now Twitter is providing me with so many links to great people and ideas.

The most difficult thing is keeping my Visa card in my purse!  There are too many great pieces out there and I want to buy all of them!

BB: Why did you decide to focus on vintage rentals?

SH: There are a few reasons I decided to focus on vintage rentals.  Two people come to mind, Erin Samuell, and Deb Grasby from Cabin in the Woods Design.  Both of them helped me see the dusty collection in a new light.  For years I dreaded dealing with the boxes and furniture that my parents had gathered.  I grew up surrounded by vintage, to the point where I felt like I was living in a museum.  Conversations with Erin and Deb sparked something in me – a shift in my perspective.

There are a couple of vintage rental businesses serving the Ontario film industry, but there isn’t anything for event planners or brides and grooms.  I think there is a good opportunity to share much of the collection with people who want unique vintage touches at their event.  I see things on wedding blogs that brides are using and I think: “Hey I have that, so why not share it?”

I also enjoy a good party with fine details.  I’ve been a Martha Stewart fan for years.  I like making table arrangements and gathering things from my garden to cook up a fab meal for friends. There is so much beauty to share and so much creativity to enjoy.

BB: What are some of your favourite pieces that you currently have on offer?

SH: I have favourites for every season.  The top of my list right now is the 1950’s Car Snac Picnic Basket and thermos.  It was a birthday gift from my husband and son.  Erin used this in a shoot a few weeks ago for a fall engagement session.  For winter, I can’t wait to see someone use the ol’ red sleigh piled high with birch logs or a fresh green Christmas tree.  In the spring, I have a nice little fishing collection that would be great to feature for a river engagement shoot.  The beach chairs and croquet set are screaming for a summer lawn party.  And of course there are the classic stand-bys of blue mason jars and sap buckets.  They have so many uses and always look beautiful.

Winter's a'comin'...

BB: What are some dream pieces that you would love to add to your inventory?

SH: There is a fab furniture set at a shop not too far from my house.  I’ve mentioned it on my blog and I have yet to buy it.  It is a four-piece set of chairs.  There is one arm chair and the other three pieces can be put together to form a couch or used separately.  It is so versatile.  The cream pleather cover was okay in the ’60s but I dream of it being reupholstered in black velvet with splashes of colour from throw cushions.  It could be used in a club setting, at a tented wedding, or even at a house party where extra seating is needed.

I also want to work on an inventory set dedicated to the Great Lakes.  An anchor, some fishing nets, buoys, driftwood, beach rock, oars and a wooden dory, rope and pulleys.  Perhaps with a touch of salt water too because lobster traps are always a hit.

To view Selena’s vintage rentals, please visit

Photos by A Simple Photograph

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The Latest: Doughnuts October 20, 2010

Filed under: Refreshments,The Latest — brilliantbash @ EST
Tags: , ,

Desserts are the fastest moving trend in the realm of entertaining.  It may be  their penchant for pretty, their availability in multiple hues (to match your party colours), or their overall general appeal in the tasty treat category, but who really cares?  All that really matters is that desserts are delicious and most guests’ eyes pop out of their heads when they are greeted with a fabulous dessert spread.   Yum!

One of the latest trends for parties is the economical – everyday with coffee – doughnut.  It’s surprising, I know, but doughnuts and doughnut towers are popping up in place of birthday cakes and even wedding cakes.  If you’re creating a tower of doughnuts *drool* it’s best to place a small cupcake wrapper or a small piece of wax or parchment paper between each doughnut.  After all, you don’t want the icing to end up on the bottom of another doughnut.  That would be a treat-related tragedy.

Check out this centrepiece idea from Martha Stewart – love it!

Pretty Doughnut Display

Fancy doughnut stores seem to be popping up all over the U.S., but this isn’t the case here in Canada.  Our best option is the local Tim Horton’s, whose offerings are undeniably tasty, but not necessarily the most visually appealing.  I recommend the Vanilla Dip (with multi-coloured sprinkles) and the Chocolate Dip as the most attractive doughnuts, and there are often special “featured” doughnuts available as well.  Currently, Tim Horton’s has a flower-shaped Strawberry Bloom doughnut on offer, and these would make a huge, bright pink impact on a little girl’s birthday dessert display.

Strawberry Bloom - Special Edition

I was recently asked for a recommendation on the latest trend in birthday cakes, and I suggested a tower of doughnuts, placed on a cake stand, topped with sparklers.  Not only were the guests excited by the cake alternative, the other patrons in the restaurant (it was a dinner party) were wowed as well.  And the restaurant staff seemed really excited to bring the newfangled concoction out to the dining area.  It’s always fun to try something new in the way of desserts.

Homemade Doughnuts

If you’re more adventurous and would like to craft your own doughnuts, there is a great recipe for cappuccino doughnuts at Country Living here, and for the creamy icing here.  These look fabulous (pictured above).

I prefer to go the less time consuming route and buy the plain cake or glazed doughnuts, and then add my own icing and sprinkles in various colours.  Much easier.

Choose Your Own Adventure

Of course, our beloved Martha has taken the trend one step further and gone the route of miniaturizing the already single serving cake.  So cute.

Mini Lovelies

Can anyone recommend any good doughnut shops in Canada?  If so, please send a link or some photos!

Photos Courtesy of Martha Stewart Weddings, Tim Hortons, Country Living, Martha Stewart Living and Food Librarian.

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